Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Milagu vadai

Hailing from Namakkal, a town where the 18 feet monolithic Hanuman, famously called Namakkal Anjaneyar stands as our guarding deity, I look up to Anjaneyar for guidance...however small or big the problem is. It may sound ridiculous, but true, I talk to Him, strike bargains...usually offer to make vadais after a session of chants, reading scriptures...and most certainly the wishes are granted.
There was no such bargain stricken at this juncture, though. Recently I wished to read the Sundarakandam and followed a particular protocol of reading the entire chapters in 9 days as ordained therein. On the concluding day I wanted to chant the Hanuman chaleesa and offer the Anjaneyar vadais as neivedhyam.
Usually, I make the fluffy urad dhal vadais. For a change I decided to go about making them as offered in most temples - crisp and thin. The vadais offered in this temple are not like those offered in other temples. They are thick and chewy...but very much in demand by devotees.

Our Anjaneyar will be adorned with a vadaimalai that holds 1008 vadais in all every morning before the abhishekam is performed. A smaller vadaimalai to adorn his folded palms will also be offered. The picture above is that of Anjaneyar in Vennai kaappu alankaram.
The milagu vadai or popularly known as Anjaneyar vadai recipe is as follows.
The recipe makes 15 thin, crunchy vadais.

1/4th cup split black gram
2 teaspoons raw rice
1 teaspoon black pepper corns, whole broken coarsely
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying

Wash and clean the urad dhal and rice together. Clean until the water runs clear.
Soak them in some water for no longer than half an hour.
Drain the water completely.
Pulse in a mixer jar just to obtain a coarse paste. Usually no water is required to grind this to the required consistency. However, if you are making a larger quantity, you may have to add some water while grinding. But exercise caution. The dhal shall not become a fine paste. The crispness of the vadais depends on the grinding.
Just before removing the jar from the machine, drop the pepper corns and salt and pulse once to blend them.
Transfer the contents to a bowl. Mix them thoroughly with hands.
Keep the oil on the stove for heating.
Wet a clean, thin kitchen towel and squeeze water to retain some dampness. Make small balls of the vadai mix. Pat the balls into thin discs on the damp towel. Make a finger size perforation in the centre.
Gently lift the prepared vadai off the cloth and drop into the hot oil. Drop as many as would fill the oil, but freely move about and get fried. You may keep less oil and proceed making just about three or four at a time.
Take care that the prepared vadais are not exposed to air for long. They tend to brown and also will not be crisp.
Make just about enough to fry one batch and reduce the heat of the oil by the time the next batch is patted.
Once deep fried well on both sides the vadais will be golden brown and very crisp.
If you intend to make the vadai malai, you may make more numbers by increasing the ingredients. Just pass a thick twine through the centres and make a garland.

Susan's MLLA is running the 25th edition @ Siri's corner until the 31st of July and I am sending these to her.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Fudge with some left over chocolate coated biscuits

This recipe is an accident...I mean that I simply took a chance dropping few ingredients and it turned out POST-WORTHY!!!
Few days ago in India, my sister showed me how quick it is to make home-made chocolates. She made them the afternoon just before we were to fly out. I was very enthused and was planning to try out on my own. The day before yesterday was an excellent oppurtunity to try this being my mother's birthday.
The downside was that I do not have any chocolate flavoured powder on hand, neither did remember to keep aside some butter. Nonetheless, I found these chocolate coated biscuits in my fridge ( Which were sent to me by a friend some three months earlier while returning a container that I sent her). For some reason we never got around to consume them. That came to my aid.And the butter was easily replaced with ghee..that will always be available at home.

I crushed the biscuits and the powder which came up to 1/4th of a cup. I used 1/2 cup skimmed milk powder, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 heaped tablespoon ghee.

The recipe is simple and very quick to make as with any fudge.
Take sugar in a heavy pan (a hindalium kadai will work fine), add small quantity of water and keep on high heat.
Prepare a plate to pour the fudge into by greasing with small quantity of ghee.
Meanwhile mix well the chocolate powder and milk powder in a flat plate and keep aside.
Bring the sugar syrup to boil and allow it to thicken to a strong string consistency. When you place a drop of syrup between your thumb and forefinger, you should be able to pull the sticky syrup in a string upto about an inch between the fingers.

Remove the pan from the heat after switching the fire off. Transfer the powders into the hot syrup and keep stirring.
In about 10 minutes time, you will find the mass thickening and the stirring becomes a task.
Transfer this mass on the greased plate. Allow to cool and cut squares.

Cool them well and serve.
I have used crushed biscuits because I intended to use them up. You may substitute with any form of cocoa powder or make white chocolate with just the milk powder and the rest of the ingredients.
You may add chopped nuts and raisins to the mix too.
The end product was a soft yet firm fudge that was neither too sweet nor with too much cocoa flavour to my liking.
The whole process was done within about 25 minutes and there were just about two utensils for cleaning too!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Amla Halwa

I can think of any form of cooked gooseberry and drool. Come season we will have pickled ones, some in brine, some wholes in spiced water, some in curds and sometimes grated and pickled. However, the whole gooseberries in sugar syrup did not have to be in season. My father always purchased them as he knew all of us love them. I used to find gooseberries through many months in Lulu hypermarket in Bahrain irrespective of the season. I made thokku to fill a 1ltr london Dairy icecream tub and it was consumed quickly by Niki and me! That was when I wanted to try sweetened thokku...sweet and hence halwa should be apt.

The recipe is quick, as I cooked it in the microwave, uses just about four ingredients and if cooked a little longer, hardens like a rollable ball then you may have amla laddoo:), as you may find in the picture.

I have used about 12 fairly large gooseberries that were not very sour. The fact that they were so less sour tempted me to use them with sugar. The otherwise insipid taste was equalled with the sugar. Just for flavour I have used cardamom too.

12 large size Indian gooseberries
1/2 cup very hot water
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water for the sugar
1 tablespoon ghee for the halwa
1 teaspoon ghee- just to line the utensil
2 pods of cardamoms crused coarsely

Wash the gooseberries and pat them dry. Drop them in the hot water and keep them in for two minutes. Remove from the water and grate them. Alternately you may crush the pulp and remove the stone.
In a microwave proof bowl, grease the walls with ghee/oil. Add the sugar to the water for the syrup. Cook on micro power high for 4 minutes. Stir and check the consistency. If a thread can be drawn between the thumb and forefinger, the syrup is ready. If not keep for a further minute or two.
Add the grated fruit, stir and return to the microwave. Cook on medium high without covering for 3 minutes initially. The addition of fruit will dilute the syrup and the goose berry pulp will cook in this.
Allow to stand two minutes.
Remove and check if they have blended well and the fruit is cooked while still crunchy.
Add the ghee and crushed cardamom and mix well. If the consistency is thin, you may cook for another 1/2 a minute. However, when cool the halwa will hold.
Nivedita is calling for as many halwas as possible and I hope mine makes it to her list celebrating sweets with Halwa.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Kara Sev For Indian Cooking Challenge

The Indian Cooking Challenge is all about trying traditionally used recipes, that many of us are unable to be cooking on a regular basis for lack of time, inclination and what not. This month Srivalli chooses Karasev. She told me about the apprehensions in trying this recipe because most of us may not possess the special ladle that enables the karasev fall in long strips. Surprisingly, most of the members were game for it, irrespective of their inconveniences. And today, you may get to see many blogs raining karasev.
So far as I remember, I have only bought karasev from sweet shops or Haldirams packets. Two years ago for deepavali I made it as part of mixture and found that it was quite a simple recipe. Notwithstanding, I had used my murukku press then. Soon, I hunted shops selling cookware in India for the ladle. Recently I purchased one, not very convincing initially. I have used that for the challenge and find it very convenient.
Srivalli had given two recipes that could be tried. I have tried both on two consecutive days, reducing the quantity to tablespoons in the place of cups. The karasev lasted just that one evening and the rainy weather and foot ball match played their part, I should say.
The recipes are as follows:

Kara Sev Recipe 1


Gram Flour - 2 1/2 cups
Rice flour - 1 cup
Chilli powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Black pepper coarsely powdered - 1 teaspoon
Ghee - 2 1/2 teaspoon
Cooking soda pinch (optional)
Salt to taste
Crushed garlic (optional) 2 pods
Oil to deep fry

Sieve both flours together in a bowl and make a pit.
Add chilli powder, pepper powder, salt, crushed garlic, ghee and soda-bi-carbonate, if using.
Mix thoroughly with hands to bread crumbs texture. Divide the dough into four portions.
To one portion add little water and knead to a stiff dough like that for puris.
Heat oil in a heavy pan, Using the karasev ladle, rub a portion of the dough directly into oil.
The dough will drop in oil in small strings. Deep fry them until well done and crisp.
Remove from oil and drain the excess oil off.
Allow to cool and store in airtight containers.

Kara Sev Recipe 2
Gram flour - 2 ½ cups
Rice flour - 1 cup
Ghee - 1 tablespoon
Soda - bi - carbonate - 2 pinches
Oil - for deep frying

Grind to a fine paste with water:
Red chillies - 6 numbers
Pepper - 1 teaspoon
Garlic - 7 or 8 flakes ( optional)

Sieve both flours together.
Cream the soda-bi-carb and ghee to a frothing cream on a flat dish rubbing the mixture thoroughly with your palms.
Add the flours, salt and this creamed mixture.
Strain the chilli- garlic paste through a strainer. Mix this to the flours and combine them well.
Add enough water to get a soft yet stiff dough.
Heat oil in a heavy pan and rub the flour using the karasev ladle directly into the oil.
Fry the dropped dough strips until crisp.
Remove from oil and drain the excess oil on a kitchen tissue.
Wash the ladle with water every time after use, so that the pores are clean to aid the next lot of dough to drop easily.

Some notes for good results:
Dividing the dough into smaller portions before pressing down, helps keep the dough fresh and consumes less oil while frying.
The dough has to be really stiff, if it little runny, add more gram flour to get the right consistency.
If you are using the kara sev ladle, rub it down directly on the oil.
If you are not comfortable pressing directly in the oil, you may press on a slightly oiled sheet or plate and transfer the bits into the oil.
You may try pressing with a murukku press ensuring that the dough falls in broken strips.
If you do not own a murukku press, try to roll thin cylindrical shapes using fingers, just about 2" long and deep fry. This is time consuming and as the dough is stiff the strips may dry soon.
Please ensure you are very careful while pressing down on the oil, it will be very hot, this is really not safe to have kids around. And the steam that emanates might be hot for your own hands. So rub quickly in the oil.
This normally stays crisp for a month when stored in air tight containers.